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Nicholas Lezard: Why not leave 6Music as it is?

Re-branding is just the same liquid poured into a different bottle

Tuesday 13 April 2010 00:00 BST

So it appears that the BBC's alternative music platform, 6Music, may be saved after all. Only this time it will be rebranded as Radio 2 Extra and its scheduling will be reduced. Maybe. The BBC says this is "speculation".

Let us assume, though, for the sake of argument, that this speculation is in the right area. It does, after all, have a ring of plausibility to it, does it not? And the line quoted in one report, from someone described as "an insider" – "It's a typical BBC fudge, compromise and, I suppose, solution" – adds to the air of believability, although I should add that the quote was printed in a newspaper whose parent company is not known for its deep affection and respect for the BBC.

Anyway, let's say it's going to be Radio 2 Extra. And let us leave aside the whole business of rebranding, in which the same liquid is poured into a slightly different-shaped bottle designed by a team of barely-qualified bottle designers at a cost reaching into the millions. It's the fact that someone seems to think that Radio 2 is the closest BBC relative to 6Music.

To compare: 1Extra broadcasts even more black music than Radio 1; Five Live Sports Extra broadcasts stuff it can't squeeze on to Five Live (mainly Test Match Special for those without an AM radio); and Radio 7 repeats everything you could wish for that used to be on Radio 4. Will this be renamed (if our speculation is correct) Radio 4 Extra?

One can only just see the logic behind this thinking. 6Music plays innovative and interesting music, generally, and what with Radio 1 being more the all-day playlist of some imaginary teen gangsta movie than a station where you might hear something new and exciting, and Radio 2 at least showcasing good stuff in Radcliffe and Maconie's show, you can see some internal logic. Jonathan Ross's musical taste isn't a million miles from 6Music's, but he's not going to be with the BBC for long (and his comments about the Corporation's timidity towards the Government and unfriendly newspapers are very pertinent indeed).

But apart from that, there is nothing about Radio 2 that connects with 6Music. Such parts of it which do are more a matter of botched solutions to the problem of an ageing demographic, and nothing to do with the soul of either station.

To rebrand 6Music as 2 Extra is not going to do much to increase listener figures or critical respect. It would appear that the simplest solution – to abandon the decision to close the station – hasn't occurred to anyone at the BBC. Well, there's still time, I suppose.

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